Saturday, December 4, 2021
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Justice DY Chandrachud’s Human Rights Day speech

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Adding nuance to our human rights discourse

I am honoured to have been invited to deliver this address on the occasion of International Human Rights Day, which signifies the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Initially adopted as “a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations,” today the Declaration, by its near universal recognition, has a moral, and legal impact beyond the hopes of many of its drafters1. Though the Declaration was a defining moment in the landscape of human rights law, ideas of freedom and rights long predate it. In 539 B.C, when Cyrus, the first king of ancient Persia, conquered Babylon he freed the slaves and declared that all people shall have the right to choose their own religion. The proclamation was recorded on a cylinder of baked clay known today as the ‘Cyrus Cylinder’, often recognized as the world’s first human rights charter. The provisions of the ‘Cyrus Cylinder’ parallel the first four Articles of the UDHR2.

The conception of human rights has radically evolved over the years, gradually redefining the relationship between the individual and the State. The adoption of legally enforceable human rights marks a turning point in human history. They represent the rejection of a culture of authority and impunity and instead shine a light on our potential to live together with dignity in free and self-determining societies. Our present paradigm of civil and political rights acts as a crucial barrier against oppression and atrocities. In speaking to you today, I would like to trace this change in our structure and culture of governance, but also take a step beyond our traditional discourse on legally enforceable rights to examine an oft-under explored area of human rights protection, our democratic structures of governance. In understanding how the legal and political fabric of government together weave a strong net of justice, we increase the richness of our human rights discourse and guard against human rights becoming only the concern of elite lawyers in elegant courtrooms.

The traditional history of human rights, traces the evolution of human rights as an echo of the cry for the French revolution: Liberté (freedoms, “civil and political” or “first generation” rights), Egalité (equality, “socio-economic” or “second generation” rights), and Fraternité (solidarity, “collective” or “third generation” rights).3 The journey begins with the adoption of the Magna Carta in the 13th century, which recognized the principle that even royal government had limits, and certain liberties must be guaranteed by law. The text proclaimed: ‘No free-man shall be seized, imprisoned, dispossessed, or outlawed, or in any way destroyed; nor will we condemn him, nor will we commit him to prison, excepting by the legal judgment of his peers, or by the laws of the land.’ This clause has been interpreted as providing the right to a trial by jury and the right to due process.4 Most significantly, it represented a limitation on the absolute authority of the State, the monarchy of the day, to act with impunity against its citizens. The rule of law would stand in the way.

In the eighteenth century, a number of instruments such the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the US Bill of Rights were enacted, granting citizens’ rights against the actions of the State. Perhaps a touch ironically for us in India, it was the right to property that was chosen as the crown jewel of rights to be protected against the capture by the State, most notably by John Locke. It was a strategic masterstroke. In a world where the monarchy was the single largest landowner and regularly stripped people of their lands and titles, emphasising property as the inherent right of all persons undercut the monarchy’s power of eminent domain. It also ensured that the idea of human rights had the support of powerful landowners and the burgeoning merchant class. This anecdote is a reminder that while the legal discourse on human rights often seeks to divorce itself from the political, the two often share a symbiotic relationship.

The next political event that spurred human rights discourse was far more horrific. The moral transgressions which took place during the Second World War shook the conscience of the world and led to the drafting and adoption of the document we commemorate today, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. At the time, India was just emerging from the grasp of colonial rule but its commitment to an inclusive vision of human rights was already evident. Significantly, Hansa Mehta, an Indian freedom fighter, was responsible for the use of gender-neutral language in the Charter replacing “All men are born free and equal” with “All human beings are born free an d equal” in Article 1 of the UDHR.

The text and interpretation of the Indian Constitution has been inspired by several legal texts and governance models from across the world. The chapter on Fundamental Rights drew inspiration from the US Bill of Rights, but went much further to ensure a wider array of rights to Indian citizens.5 I’m often asked if the length of our Constitution is a strength or a weakness, whether we would have been better off with a shorter Constitution like the American text. When asked such tricky questions, I find it safer to allow those better suited than I to answer, so I respond with the words of Dr Ambedkar, who noted: “All countries like India which are late-comers in the field of constitution-making should not copy the faults of other countries. They should profit by the experience of their predecessors.”6 The length of the Indian Constitution allowed the framers to capture not merely the rights of citizens, but the corresponding duties necessary to fulfil the goals of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity. In other words, the Indian framers acknowledged that freedom simpliciter was not enough to achieve the goals set out in the Preamble, rather something more was needed – perhaps best embodied by sub-clause (e) of Article 51A, the citizen’s duty to promote harmony and common brotherhood transcending, religious, linguistic and regional barriers and the renouncement of practices derogatory to the dignity of women.

Adopted in 1949 as one of the world’s first post-colonial constitutions, the human rights set out in our constitutional text have served as a beacon for other nations emerging from the wake of colonialism. Similarly, the interpretation of rights by Indian Courts has also influenced other jurisdictions. The framers of the South African Constitution for instance, considered at length the Indian experience with the Directive Principles of State Policy while drafting socio-economic rights in their Bill of Rights. Albie Sachs, a former judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa and member of the Constitutional Committee,7 took note of how Indian courts had used the “technically” unenforceable but substantively essential Directive Principles of State Policy to build a robust conception of human rights in India.8

Today we see a proliferation of supra-national human rights bodies. The justification by which someone outside the state machinery can pass judgment on the validity of State actions lies in the claim of a higher standard, a universally agreed minimum standard of justice, against which the acts and laws of a State can be measured. Alongside the increase in human rights bodies and tribunals, we also see an increase in the number of human rights.

The history of human rights protection by the judiciary in India has centred around Article 21 of the Constitution and its interpretation by the Supreme Court.9 Our Court has over the years, recognized economic and social rights such as the right to shelter, right to privacy, right to health and medical care, and right to live in a pollution free environment as being a component of the right to life. The scope of these rights has also gradually expanded over the years, often relying on international treaties and instruments. In K.S. Puttaswamy v Union of India,10 the Supreme Court declared the right to privacy as a constitutionally protected right, referring to Articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the UDHR and the European Convention on Human Rights. Similarly, in Common Cause v Union of India,11 the Court recognised the right to die with dignity as a facet of Article 21.

The protection of human rights in India however has never been limited to the judiciary. The operation of the Right to Information Act is a prime example of how citizens, their elected representatives and courts all work together to further human rights protection. The RTI Act was enacted by Parliament in furtherance of the ‘right to know’ under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution and ensures transparency in the decisions of public authorities, the accountability of public officials for any misconduct or illegality and empowers individuals to bring to light matters of public interest. While Section 24 of the RTI Act states that citizens cannot request information from intelligence and security organisations, the proviso to the section expressly provides that in regard to human rights violations, information shall be provided.

Yet it is the citizens who breathe real life into the Act, through the thousands of information requests filed every day by journalists, activists and engaged citizens. The system of protection comes a full circle when courts are called upon to adjudicate human rights violations that were uncovered by citizens filing information requests under the RTI Act, which was enacted by Parliament. For example, in Sewage Employees Union v Union of India12 the court cited government documents obtained under the RTI Act which revealed fatal accidents during the cleaning of sewers. The court noted, “the working conditions of those employed for cleaning sewage lines are wholly incompatible with human dignity and hazardous for their health and safety.”13

Today, we see complicated social and economic issues being framed in the rubric of rights. In Olga Tellis v Bombay Municipal Corporation14 the right to livelihood, in Umesh Kumar v State of Andhra Pradesh15 the right to reputation, and in Subhash Kumar v State of Bihar16 the right of citizens to enjoy clean air and water were all framed as rights under Article 21 of the Constitution. In State of Himachal Pradesh v Umed Ram Sharma17 the rights of citizens in hilly areas to have quality roads was urged to be a right under Article 21 and in Paramanand Katara v Union of India18 the right to a doctor’s assistance in government hospitals was argued as falling within Article 21’s ambit. The courts have responded to this trend, recognising that the vision of individual freedom and dignity espoused by the Constitution is not guaranteed purely by the right to free speech or the right to freely practice religion, but by a host of concomitant social and economic guarantees that form the substratum of a dignified life.

At the time of drafting the Constitution, the framers were acutely conscious that the civil and political rights guaranteed by the Constitution in Part III formed only one amongst many ways in which the Constitution protected the individual. This was perhaps best articulated by Dr Ambedkar, who noted, “Ask those who are unemployed whether what are called fundamental rights are of any value to them. If a person who is unemployed is offered a choice between a job of some sort, with some sort of wages, … and the exercise of his right to freedom of speech, association, religion etc., can there be any doubt what his choice will be?” Even more emphatically, Vishwambhar Dayal Tripathy stated, “Except for goodwill, no other word is found in the whole Constitution. Except for the right to vote, the poor man has not yet got any other right under the Constitution.20 The framers understood that the meaningful exercise of civil and political rights leading to a vibrant democracy rested in part on underlying social and economic guarantees.

This understanding found vision in the Directive Principles which represent precisely this substratum of social and economic guarantees. Article 39(a) states that men and women shall have equal and adequate means to a livelihood and Article 39(d) provides for equal pay for men and women. Under Article 43 the State shall endeavour to secure for all workers a living wage and the full enjoyment of social and cultural activities. Today our human rights discourse is often framed in the language of freedom from the State, and freedom to act in a particular manner. The Directive Principles, however, point to a far more expansive definition of freedom that is the true goal of a substantive human rights regime. Unlike Fundamental Rights which protect citizens from State action, the Directive Principles enable the State to remove inequalities of power between citizens in different capacities, ensuring that human rights are protected horizontally. For example, under Article 43A the State shall ensure the participation of workers in the management of undertakings and establishments, guarding against an employee being left debilitated due to the arbitrary actions of even a private employer.

Yes, a citizen’s freedom is abridged when they are detained or shackled. But what about when education becomes so expensive it cannot be afforded by a vast majority of our population. Or when a woman is compelled to work at home and not accorded financial independence? The substantive content of freedom contemplated by our Constitution is not limited to the freedom to speak freely or not be detained in a cell, but also to be free from the shackles of poverty, patriarchy and caste both in the public and private sphere. In the public sphere, it is the freedom to not have the State interfere in one’s life, and in the private sphere it is the freedom from domination by other private actors, whether they be a husband, an employer, or a religious leader. This is the vision of freedom that the Directive Principles capture. One of my favourite anecdotes about the Directive Principles was an amendment proposed by K T Shah stating that not only should women and men receive equal pay, but that a housewife’s work should receive recognition, including for the purposes of national accounting. While this proposal did not find its way into the Constitution, our courts have not let this this powerful element of equality die out. For example, when a homemaker is killed in a motor accident, tribunals will recognise the homemaker’s contribution in economic terms even in the absence of a formal income and award compensation for the death.

The question that arises from this discussion is, if the Directive Principles were so central to the vision of the Constitution, why were they rendered non-enforceable in courts of law? Dr Ambedkar’s reply to the question is telling. He noted, “If it is said that the Directive Principle have no legal force behind them, I am prepared to admit it. But I am not prepared to admit that they have no sort of binding force at all. Nor am I prepared to concede that they are useless because they have no binding force in law.21 Dr Ambedkar highlights that legal enforceability is not the only anvil upon which constitutional provisions are binding on the State. Today, the Directive Principles often serve as “window-dressing”21 for those who seek Constitutional backing for a particular political policy, judicial decision or academic argument. However, in the framers own words, “It is the intention of this Assembly that in future both the legislature and the executive should not merely pay lip service to these principles enacted in this part, but that they should be made the basis of all executive and legislative action that may be taken hereafter in the matter of the governance of the country.23

The Constituent Assembly, at least those members who were not well-off lawyers, understood two key points. First, that civil and political rights alone were not enough to secure the substantive vision of freedom and dignity that the Constitution sought to bring about. Second, that the justiciability of this vision was not to be sought solely in the courts of law but also through the political structures created by the Constitution. Therefore, it was through a combination of the legal and political elements of the Constitution that the rights of citizens would be truly protected.

On any given day, anywhere between thirty and sixty files find their way onto my desk. I note that an increasing number of petitions frame a host of social, economic, environmental and political issues in the language of human rights under Part III of the Constitution, often using Articles 14, 19 and 21 as a tagline, affixed in a cavalier manner. We must guard against this dilution of our human rights discourse. Casually asserting rights where they are not implicated can lead to a dilution of our human rights discourse by framing issues in absolute terms, polarising public debate, and stifling important consensus and deliberation. At its worst, framing all social issues in the language of rights, even where there exist important countervailing interests, can lead to important rights talk being characterised as mere expressions of desires and wants.

For example, the court has recognised both the right to a clean environment and the right to housing. Undoubtedly both are facets of the right to life and are necessary to protect the dignity of the individual. However, if both parties merely assert that their right is protected under Article 21 of the Constitution, the Constitution does not have any answers, at least at first glance. In such situations, one often sees heightened social conflict and increasingly polarised opinions, and it is left to the judges to harmoniously construe the ‘right to environment’ and the ‘right to housing’. But if we look closely, and read the Constitution structurally, it does provide answers. Through its deliberative processes of local authorities, elected representatives and the ultimately the courts, the Constitution envisions that we as citizens can build a consensus on where the houses should end and the trees begin. When we assert our right to livelihood or clothing or roads, it is a plea that such things are made more secure by law and politics. However, to merely assert such rights in an absolute form is to ignore the rights and interests of our fellow citizens and enter the realm of infinite and impossible desires.

The use of the court as the first line of defence to solve complicated social issues is a reflection of the waning power of discourse and consensus building in our society. If we allow our local laws, institutions and practices to be co-opted by the forces of racism, casteism and discrimination, all our social problems will have to be taken out of deliberative forums and placed before the court. Our ever-expanding list of rights risks trivialising the essential core of rights without really advancing the important social issues that we have reconceptualised as rights. We have to ask whether the undifferentiated language of simplistic rights talk is the best way of addressing the vast spectrum of injustices that exist in our country.24 By focussing our energies and discourse on increasing the strength of our deliberative processes, we ensure that human rights are protected not only by the legal by also by the political spheres of our Constitution. The Indian freedom struggle and the adoption of the Constitution represent triumphs in non-violent contestation and deliberation to secure freedoms, institutions of social welfare and human rights. Our predecessors engaged in monumental political and legal struggles to ensure we would be the bearers of the rights we cherish today. In adopting an attitude of passivity or apathy towards our fundamental duties as informed citizens, we risk having our rights prised away while we stand distracted by the wonders and controversies of the modern world.

An example of how improved deliberative and legislative procedures can assist us in securing human rights is the adoption of Standing Committees in Parliament. Beginning in the 1980s, Standing Committees associated with various ministries of the government consulted experts to provide detailed reports on various draft legislation. They may even consult senior government officials in a closed setting, allowing for detailed discussion. As Committees do not vote along party lines and operate in private, committee members can engage in freewheeling debate and consultation with each other on detailed policy issues to reach a consensus. The use of bi-partisan committees in Parliament represents a vital step in ensuring that legislation which implicates human rights receives the necessary scrutiny. For example, in the United Kingdom, the Joint Committee on Human Rights not only reviews draft legislation, but also analyses whether existing legislation is compliant with the United Kingdom’s international human rights obligations. In 2004 the committee specifically emphasised that the social and economic rights guaranteed by the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights could not be separated from civil and political rights and disagreed with the government’s view that the rights in the ICESCR should be viewed as purely aspirational.

Imaginative use of the political spheres of constitutional law to liberalise rights regimes also took place in Ireland, with the decriminalisation of same-sex marriage and the removal on the constitutional prohibition on abortion. In 2011 a ‘Constitutional Convention’ was set up, consisting of both citizens and sitting politicians. The Convention considered several issues, including the prohibition on blasphemy, political reform and the legalisation of same-sex marriage. In 2013 the Convention strongly recommended the legalisation of same-sex marriage, and although the views of the Convention were not binding, in 2015 same-sex marriage was legalised by the Irish parliament.

In 2012, an Indian woman living in Ireland, Savita Halappanavar was not allowed to terminate her pregnancy due to Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws. Savita subsequently died of septicaemia, and an independent inquiry found that Ireland’s abortion laws contributed to the doctor’s inability to give her proper medical care. Responding to the public outcry following Savita’s death, the Irish Government selected a group of one hundred to form the ‘Citizen’s Assembly’, chaired by a retired Supreme Court judge, to understand whether it should liberalise its abortion regime. As the citizens had no background in medical or legal issues, various experts, who had not taken a public position on the debate, testified before the Assembly. Members of the Assembly were encouraged to ask questions and heard personal stories from those affected by Ireland’s abortion regime. Interestingly, a similar practice was also adopted by our Supreme Court when decriminalising homosexuality – hearing first-hand testimony of the very citizens who faced discrimination at the hands of the colonial law. The Irish Assembly overwhelmingly voted in favour of liberalising Ireland’s abortion laws, with several members noting how their vote changed through the deliberative process. Subsequently, a joint parliamentary committee examined the report of the Citizen’s assembly and concurred that the restrictive prohibition on abortion should be removed. This was followed by a vote in parliament and a subsequent public referendum leading to the liberalisation of Ireland’s abortion regime. The Irish example demonstrates the valuable role of processes in ensuring effective human rights gains. By holding expert consultations, involving the citizenry, ensuring parliamentary scrutiny, Ireland was able to effect meaningful expansion and protection of its citizen’s human rights.

Asserting issues as rights is in fact a deviation from the time-honoured democratic understanding that difficult and controversial issues are to be decided by the people through their elected representatives. The simplistic assertion of a right or resort to the court can often secure valuable short-term gains. However, it does not solve the underlying deeply divisive and often technical social problems our societies face. We need to engage our most brilliant minds, the local population and the local authorities to create mutual understanding, discover common ground and craft a compromise that works for all parties concerned. I often meet law students who are keen to understand constitutional adjudication through the ideas of liberty, equality and integrity but fail to grasp that human rights are protected every day through public reasoning and justification, dialogue between constitutional institutions and functionaries, legislative procedures, administrative planning and budgeting. By focussing our human rights discourse on the need to strengthen and closely monitor these processes, we can hope to reduce the number of human rights violations that ever have to reach the court.

Take the example of the tree-felling in the Aarey forest. As a resident of Mumbai, I know just how dangerous and often impossible it can be to get from one end of the city to another during rush hour. The need for a safe and affordable public transport system is undoubtedly urgent. Yet at the same time, an approach that ignores the environmental impact of development is unconscionable in a world where every day we see the dangerous effects of climate change. In resolving such competing rights, we can see how deliberative democracy and the courts together can lead to the protection of human rights. Even before any decision was taken to fell trees, a public hearing was conducted. The hearing was scheduled for a mere half an hour but went on for more than two hours as huge numbers of residents, environmental activists and tribal communities turned up to participate. When the High Court was approached, it took measures to further the deliberative processes, ordering a second hearing and directing the municipal corporation to publicly notify the proposals so citizens could object. Over 33,000 objections were received. Where the deliberative mechanisms were ignored or overruled, the Court had to step in to ensure that irreparable harm was not caused while important social issues were discussed through the existing structures of governance. After the recently concluded elections in Maharashtra, the elected Chief Minister of the State has noted that until further expert deliberation on the matter, no trees will be cut.

Among the fundamental principles of environmental governance are principles that foster access to information; access to justice to the community which is liable to be affected and governance based on the rule of law. Access to information, particularly to impoverished and marginalised communities is of vital importance. Communities must have access to all information in order to be satisfied that a proposed project meets standards of safety; that the site upon which the project is to be located is environmentally conducive and that the project will not result in a destruction of the natural habitat. Denial of information is the surest way to deprive communities of human rights and leads to a sense of alienation. Access to information is a source empowerment. Participatory decision making must hence be an ingredient of environmental governance in a true sense of the term.

India’s excellent democratic record shows that in our seventy plus years of independence, regular general elections and the peaceful handover of power have been the overriding norm. However, we must ask ourselves whether close to a century of democratic rule has reduced the political, social and economic exclusion faced by many of our citizens. The deliberative force of our democracy cannot stop at voting once in five years. Political speech and issues must be made intelligible when the dust and the din of elections end. Governance begins when the model code of conduct ends. Our discourse on governance cannot be as divisive as the trenchant voices of electoral combat. Deliberative arenas, which foster critical public reflection must be created so that criticism and critique are voiced in an open yet dignified debate. I was recently told of an initiative termed ‘taking the constitution to the people’, whereby volunteer law students educated other citizens about the rights, duties and culture of the Constitution. Even beyond the Constitution, public notification and consultations on upcoming legislation, environmental projects, employment schemes and environmental change through structured forums are essential to ensure our democracy not only survives, but lives and breathes vibrantly.

Our Constitution already provides for one of the most robust structures for local governance of any country. By the seventy third and seventy fourth amendments to the Constitution, Parliament brought into existence 226,188 village panchayats, 5,736 block panchayats, and 467 district level panchayats. Parliament was also aware that State institutions are often gendered spaces that reflect the socio-economic inequalities of class and caste.25 To address this, the Constitutional amendments also introduced a thirty-three per cent quota for women, opening roles for close to 80,000 women in politics.26 Certain states like Kerala have gone a step further, with fiscal de-centralisation. 40% of the gross domestic product of the state for developmental expenditure is allocated to local government. Thus, local elected representatives have the authority to design, fund and implement a range of developmental policies and projects. Our human rights regime stems in part from the need to ensure that asymmetries in power are not abused. A strong barrier of rights provides a layer of protection against the State. However, where government decisions are taken openly in local assemblies, with strong and inclusive participation, contestation and public reasoning, government power is itself reduced and reoriented in line with the goals of citizens, reducing the chances of abuse.
Our human rights discourse is rich in cases and conventions on how the power of the State should be limited, allocated and where necessary struck down. Often, in its desire to sanitise itself in the guise of objectivity, our human rights discourse disassociates itself from the political democratic process. Democracy is seen as having no further value beyond aggregating the views of the population in accordance with the various political agendas of our country. I hope my speech today has dispelled this myth. Courts are often described as the last bastion of human rights, but the word ‘last’ should not be misconstrued as the ‘only’ bastion. By placing all our problems at the doorstep of the court the moment they arise, we obliterate the powerful role of citizens and elected representatives in solving issues and require the Court to undertake a task it was never engineered to do. Our participatory processes and systems of equalising power must be strengthened to ensure that each citizen is not just the bearer of human rights, but also an active enforcer of human rights as well. The assertion of the human rights before a court is but the last step in a long line of deliberative processes that must be protected if our human rights are to be given effect. Public reason and justification in the use of power are the ultimate guarantors of human rights and they must be protected and enhanced at the level of the citizen, the parliamentarian, the government and lastly the court.

The title of today’s speech is ‘Adding nuance to our human rights discourse’. Language has a powerful channelling effect on thought and often subliminally frames issues and our attempts to surmount them. By framing our most complicated social issues and injustices in the language of simplistic rights assertions or political slogans, we risk our discourse on human rights becoming hard-edged, inflexible and vacuous.27 On 25 January 1978 the Supreme Court in Maneka Gandhi v Union of India28 overruled the decision in A K Gopalan and held that the existence of a law was not enough for the government to restrict fundamental rights, rather such law must be just, fair and reasonable. On 7 December of the same year, Parliament passed the forty-fourth amendment to the Constitution, providing that the fundamental rights of citizens do not stand suspended during an emergency. In 1992 and 1993, the judicial decisions of Mohini Jain v Karnataka29 and Unni Krishnan v Andhra Pradesh30 recognised the right to education as vital to the ensuring individual dignity under the Constitution, and on 28 November 2002 Parliament enacted Article 21A of the Constitution, guaranteeing primary education to all children under the age of fourteen. In the State of Uttar Pradesh v Raj Narain the Supreme Court observed that, “The people of this country have a right to know every public act, everything that is done in a public way, by their public functionaries” and on 15 June 2005 the Right to Information Act came into force allowing every Indian citizen to request information from public authorities.

Refining our rights rhetoric to include participative processes and as well as substantive outcomes is one step towards recognising the complimentary roles the political and legal spheres of the Constitution play in protecting our human rights. Public deliberation will always be especially threatening to those who achieved power in its absence. However, recognising the value of deliberative processes in exposing weak arguments, identifying the misuse of power and ensuring that human rights are lived beyond the cloistered halls of courts and universities adds a powerful element to our human rights discourse. It is a reminder that we will not wait to be shocked by a terrifying tale of human rights abuse, but rather scrutinise the actions of those in power every day to ensure that such abuses never occur in the first place.


1. Hurst Hannum, The UDHR in National and International Law, Health and Human Rights, 3:2, Fiftieth Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1998) 144-158.

2. Paul Gordon Lauren, The Foundations of Justice and Human Rights in Early Legal Texts and Thought, in The Oxford Handbook of International Human Rights Law Edited by Dinah Shelton (Oxford University Press 2013) 170; See also The Background of Human Rights, available at

3. International Human Rights Law: A Short History available at

4. Paul Gordon Lauren, The Foundations of Justice and Human Rights in Early Legal Texts and Thought, in The Oxford Handbook of International Human Rights Law Edited by Dinah Shelton (Oxford University Press 2013) 175; See also Magna Carta: An Introduction available at

5. MP Jain, Outlines of Indian Legal and Constitutional History (7th ed., Lexis Nexis 2014) 690.

6. Niraja Gopal Jayal, citizenship and its discontents (Harvard University Press 2013).

7. Sachs, Albie, and André Astrow. Post-Apartheid South Africa: A Constitutional Framework. 6:3 World Policy Journal (1989) 589–608.

8. Sachs, Albie, The Judicial Enforcement of Socio-Economic Rights: The Grootboom Case, 56:1 Current Legal Problems (2003) 579–601.

9. Fali S. Nariman, Fifty Years of Human Rights Protection in India – The Record of 50 Years of Constitutional Practice, Special Issue, National Law School of India Review (2013) 13-26.

10. (2017) 10 SCC 1

11. (2018) 5 SCC 1

12. Civil Writ Petition 1983 of 2008 (High Court of P&H).

13. Ibid.

14. (1985) 3 SCC 545

15. (2013) 10 SCC 591

16. (1991) 1 SCC 598

17. (1986) 2 SCC 68

18. (1989) 4 SCC 286

19. Niraja Gopal Jayal, citizenship and its discontents (Harvard University Press 2013).

20. Ibid.

21. Constituent Assembly Debates, Volume 7 (4 November 1948).

22. Gautam Bhatia, Directive Principles of State Policy in The Oxford Handbook of the Indian Constitution Edited by Sujit Choudhry, Madhav Khosla and Pratab Bhanu Mehta (Oxford University Press 2016).

23. Constituent Assembly Debates, Volume 7 (19 November 1948).

24. Mary Ann Glendon, Rights Talk: The Impoverishment of Political Discourse (Maxwell Macmillan 1991).

25. Shirin Rai, Deliberative Democracy and the Politics of Redistribution: The Case of the Indian Panchayats, 22:4 Democratic Theory (2007) 66-80.

26. Ibid.

27. Mary Ann Glendon, Rights Talk: The Impoverishment of Political Discourse (Maxwell Macmillan 1991)

28. 1978 AIR SC 597

29. (1992) 3 SCC 666

30. (1993) SCR (1) 594

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